Port of Toledo posts impressive numbers for 2017 shipping season

Published: Nov. 21, 2017 at 5:45 PM EST
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The Port of Toledo is one of the largest on the Great Lakes, and business is booming this year. Grain, aluminum, iron ore and petroleum coke are just some of the products moving in and out of Toledo.

A study shows that about 7,000 jobs are tied to the Port of Toledo, and it has a nearly one billion dollar economic impact on the region.

More iron ore moves through the port than any other commodity, and this year's iron ore numbers are up considerably from last year.

Joe Cappel is the Vice President of Business Development at The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, "When you see a lot of ore boats in Toledo, that's a good sign for the domestic production of steel."

There have been a lot of ore boats in Toledo this year. Last year freighters hauled about 1 million tons of iron ore to Toledo. This year that number has already hit about 3 million tons, and the season isn't over yet. Paul Toth is the President and CEO of the port, and he says it's not just iron ore shipments that are up,"We've seen an increase in virtually everything this year."

Cappel says the numbers are encouraging for the entire region,"In normal years when something is way up, other things are down. This year everything seems to be pretty far up. We have worked hard to strike a balance at the port through the years Our imports are balanced with our exports. Our domestic shipments are balanced with our shipments to and from Canada. It is great to be able to handle so many commodities and ship them to so many places all over the globe."

While the port's entire portfolio of commodities is doing well, the iron ore numbers are about to get even bigger. Cleveland Cliffs is building a new facility along the banks of the Maumee River. Crews were doing prep work on the site today, and construction is expected to start next spring.

Toth says it's a $700 million investment that means about 1,200 construction jobs and 120 permanent workers, "That will bring an additional 100 vessels every year to the Ironville dock. Just four years ago that dock lay vacant, it was an old refinery site."

Cappel says those vessels will be carrying in a significant amount of iron ore,"In 2020 when Cleveland Cliffs is fully operational, there will be an additional two million tons of iron ore added to what we are handling today. When you count all of the cargo coming into the port, that totals between 8-12 million tons in a season.The additional two million tons of iron ore will certainly be a sizable addition to that overall number. "

In addition to the Cleveland Cliffs construction, Toth says there will also be other work done at the port next year, "Our port was built in 1956 and 1957, so it's time to build some new facilities and renovate some of the existing sites. We are committed to investing in our future."

The goal is of course to continue expanding the port of Toledo. Although there are no specific details about any new projects at this point, Cappel says there is plenty of room for new growth, "A lot of ports are restrained by other waterfront development. We have a large industrial area and a lot of room to grow." That's good news for the entire region.

As we mentioned, an economic impact study about six years ago revealed that thousands of jobs are tied to the port with an annual economic impact of about one billion. An updated study is being done, and the results are expected to be released when the 2018 shipping season kicks off.